Hillary Clinton advice to Black Lives matter: a tentative analysis
Foreward: In November 2016, I wrote this after the recording emerged of a meeting between Hilary Clinton and Black Lives Matter. I never got around to publishing it because other events got in the way.
I return to it now because it seems to capture issues that remain present even though it was four years ago. Although the Trump campaign made significant efforts to suppress Black voter turnout, some of the reduced enthusiasm rests with the issues raised by this exchange.
The deeper lesson is how does political change occur and how does a politician who wants change effect that change even when compromises require them to waver in their support for those goals.
In the early days of her presidential campaign, Hilary Clinton met with activists from the Boston chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization. The activist had tried to interrupt an earlier event. After an event, later in that day, they were invited to meet her. The two activists (Daunasia Yancey, who founded the chapter, and Julius Jones) had the meeting recorded. The meeting was later released online with a transcript. The transcript contains helps us understand Hillary and BLM. For Hillary, we have a glimpse of her approach to politics which can suggest how she would govern.
Clinton gave the BLM protestors valuable advice, which they may not have fully appreciated at the time, but she did something more important. Beyond the advice, she met with them, which no Republican presidential candidate had done. Even though the meeting was recorded, she spoke openly and directly about what she could do for them. Her advice, practical, pragmatic, and political, was couched on the basis that they could find common ground to work together. What we notice from the meeting’s surface was the BLM were more interested in the emotional content than in the practical content. They want to change hearts. They wanted to satisfy the desire that equality means acceptance. Acceptance and equality while related are not connected. One is done through the laws the other through society. Even though the laws can shape a society, they have a limit. They cannot force acceptance. They cannot go beyond human nature. It is at this limit that politicians must work. Only to the extent that politicians can make laws that shape public institutions, which in turn shape the public attitudes, can they create public acceptance to the extent that publicly endorsed racist…